For the past decade, French chef David Toutain has been exciting Parisian diners at his eponymous two-Michelin star restaurant with his creative nature-based cuisine. Toutain, who has excellent pedigree having worked with names such as Alain Passard and Marc Veyrat, is now bringing his innovative concept to Hong Kong in collaboration with ZS Hospitality group.
A Review of Feuille
First things first: Feuille is pronounced “feuy” and means leaf or foliage in English. Despite it being a tongue twister for non-French speakers, it is as apt a name for this new restaurant as it gets. Promotional material touts Feuille’s concept as “vegetal”.
This should not, however, be interpreted as vegetarian – there is some meat on the degustation menu. But, there is no doubt that Toutain and his Hong Kong executive chef Joris Rousseau, a former sous chef with Yannick Alleno, intend for leafy greens and other bounties from nature to be the hero of the show at Feuille.
So serious are they about nature and sustainability that Toutain tells us that they have already earmarked a piece of land in the New Territories to grow their own produce for use in the restaurant.
We were there early in the opening days, when Toutain was in town to finetune the menu with Rousseau. How chef Rousseau takes it forward will remain to be seen but it’s only fair that he be allowed to unleash his own creativity.
True to form, the menu is divided into four main green experiences: grains and seeds; leaves, stems and roots; flowers and fruits; and origins. The grains and seed started with a modest serving of chia seeds in lemon tree kombucha – just enough to whet the appetite for what was to come.
I’ve rarely seen vegetable dishes look so finessed or appetising. Each of the following courses were presented elegantly and creatively, it felt like we were sitting in a garden and picking out pieces of nature to sample.
The flaxseed, mulberry and stellaire tartlets were both a delight to the eyes and the taste buds. The quinoa, sweet potato and thyme melded beautifully with the bark it was presented with and the mustard seed, shiso and sea grape was like a little garden on its own. Grains and seeds was rounded up with sweet corn and cumin served in an eggshell.
The leaves, stems and roots journey took us beyond the garden hedges, starting with the clams, green peas and almond milk. Each mouthful was a revitalising burst of textures and sweetness. The turbot with a sprig of watercress and a small scoop of winter melon was a well-balanced morsel.
The spiny lobster served with a side of zucchini flower and mint was a personal favourite. The springy lobster flesh was lightly charred and served on a skewer and the zucchini flower had absorbed all the umami from the sauce. The pigeon as perfectly pink and just unpretentiously presented with beetroot and hibiscus.
Five fruits and desserts completed this nature’s foray for us, with the tomato, strawberry and longan, and the cauliflower and coconut deserving special mention. There were 15 courses, including the bread, but the careful portions and the lightness of the vegetables left us feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed.
This writer isn’t a great greens fan especially when it comes to French cooking, but Feuille has come close to converting me to healthy living!
Flaxseed, mulberry and stellaire tartlets
Clams, green peas and almond milk
Spiny lobster, zucchini and mint
Cauliflower and coconut
With low lights and a predominantly wood interiors, the restaurant exudes a very Zen atmosphere that goes well with its nature-inspired tasting menu. There are not many tables and seats are set a comfortable distance apart, allowing for a reasonable amount of privacy. The restaurant only serves a tasting menu but there is a vegetarian option if the restaurant is informed 48 hours ahead. There’s also a corkage fee of $750 for 750ml and $1,500 for a 1,500ml.1
Price for two:
Lunch – $1,800
Dinner – $3,200
5/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 12nn – 2pm*, 6pm – 8.30pm*
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